Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Bug and beetle on Mexican hat

with 15 comments

As I was leaving the grounds of the Hyde Park Baptist High School on May 30th I caught sight of a Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera) that didn’t look quite normal. When I got close to check it out I discovered a blister beetle on it, and then I noticed a bug lower down as well. After the bug (likely Calocoris barberi) moved up onto the column, I made this portrait.


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Last week I went to log in to my savings account at a bank. A message came up saying that the bank was reorganizing its online system and I’d need to create a new password. Okay, that happens. I began the process, as part of which I received an email with a temporary password I’d have to use. Here’s the relevant portion of that e-mail:

Your new temporary password is d5KzZYu-

Please sign in with the password exactly as shown including upper and lower case. Ensure that there is no punctuation, characters or spaces before or after the password.

Do you see my dilemma? I was told to use the password exactly as shown, and yet I was supposed to ensure that no punctuation appears after the password. Was the hyphen at the end of the first line the final character of the temporary password, or was it a punctuation mark I needed to avoid? Why would the people managing the bank allow such an ambiguity to occur? It’s easy for a programmer to exclude a hyphen and all other punctuation marks from the character set from which temporary passwords are generated. And yet that didn’t happen.

Another point of confusion during the process was a reference to an OTP device. Do you know what an OTP device is? I didn’t. It turns out that the bank intends OTP as an initialism for “one-time passcode.” So why doesn’t the bank just use the full phrase and avoid any doubt? I queried the internet just now to see if I could find out what OTP stands for. Some sites did say “one-time password” or “one-time passcode.” Other sites said that OTP means “on the phone,” “one true pairing,” or something less savory.

As you’ve heard me say more than once: everything online and in manuals needs to appear in a way that’s clear to a novice user. The fact that the company’s staff knows how to interpret things is irrelevant.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 16, 2022 at 4:30 AM

15 Responses

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  1. Last month I had an issue with my bank. I stood firm and repeated my stance. Finally got a result. But there’s no doubt that their left hand had no idea what their right hand was doing. Insects, on the other hand, know exactly their role and how to fulfil it. Yet humans continue to have the false belief they are top of the chain.


    June 16, 2022 at 5:34 AM

    • Good for you for standing firm when you knew you were in the right.

      People are capable of knowing things and imagining things in a way no insect ever could, but unfortunately people are also capable of delusions and bad choices that don’t afflict insects.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 16, 2022 at 6:21 AM

  2. Perhaps the Bug and the Beetle are utilizing the Mexican hat as a B&B.


    June 16, 2022 at 6:52 AM

  3. Hopefully, you can bring this up with the bank’s software people and they’ll fix it and make things clearer.

    That Mexican Hat must be tasty!


    June 16, 2022 at 7:36 AM

    • I’ve learned from decades of experience that it’s impossible for a customer to get to talk to the programmers. The people that a customer does get to talk with usually seem not to care in the slightest. It’s more rewarding and less frustrating to photograph wildflowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 16, 2022 at 12:19 PM

  4. I like the picture with the beetles on it. Mexican hat is a beautiful flower. I agree about the bank.

    Alessandra Chaves

    June 16, 2022 at 7:37 AM

    • The Mexican hats have passed their peak season now but I still see plenty of them around town. They offer lots of photographic possibilities.

      The bank is typical of the many institutions that don’t adequately test their systems on inexperienced users to find and fix the flaws.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 16, 2022 at 1:38 PM

  5. Apparently, there was a kind of coexistence between the beetle and the bug.

    Peter Klopp

    June 16, 2022 at 9:00 AM

  6. As soon as you said one-time password I remembered once having to look up OTP. I had completely forgotten about it, and will no doubt have forgotten again next time I am presented with it.

  7. They seem to be coexisting just fine. Lots of pollen to go around.

    Steve Gingold

    June 17, 2022 at 3:02 AM

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